The creation of a new team, backed by one of the top rated golf courses in Minnesota has brought new energy and a new place to play for the area's Minnesota Golf Association's junior program.
For the first time in its eight year existence Deacon's Lodge in Breezy Point will host an MGA junior team. The team will consist mostly of Deacon's employees, who also play on the Pequot Lakes boys' team.
"Jill Beyer (owner of Wildwedge Family Golf Park) really spearheaded this," said Deacon's PGA professional Mark Neva. "We have no less than three of the team members working here at Deacon's and knowing the team would be made up of mostly our staff members it would be odd for them to be playing for a neighboring golf course."
Jonas Dale, Drake Beyer, and Charlie Hollinbeck are the three Deacon's employees who will help make up the team, which will start the season Tuesday at Deacon's Lodge.
Robert Bell placed 4th in the Minnesota PGA Players' Tour match play qualifier
Drake Beyer said he'll play in about a dozen junior PGA tournaments this summer, but is excited about the extra tournaments the MGA program will give him.
"This is going to help my game because the more experience in tournaments and under pressure you can get the less pressure you're going to feel when you need to score and that's key," said Beyer, who advanced to the Section 6-1A final this spring.
"I just wish there were more teams out there because this is essentially an extended school league."
Beyer is confident his team will have a strong showing in its first MGA event. He said not many young players get to play Deacon's, while the three course employees have played it many times.
But Deacon's Lodge, designed by Arnold Palmer, is no stranger to hosting MGA events. This year they are hosting the 20th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship Sept. 4-6 along with The Classic at Madden's.
"Anytime you can support the MGA along with junior golf, it's a good thing," said Neva, who played in the junior MGA program while growing up in Golden Valley.
"Back in the 1980s, prior to the Minnesota PGA junior tour, the MGA was the only formal junior platform in the state. It was designed to be an extension of the spring high school season. It's team oriented because you are representing a golf facility and playing for a golf team. That's what makes it so unique. The Minnesota PGA is strictly individual."
The increased popularity of the Minnesota PGA Junior Golf Association and the decline in junior players in the lakes area, has taken its toll on the area's MGA junior programs.
But a new team and a new sponsoring course could bring new life.
Bell staying busy
Not even a week after finishing second in his first Class 1A state boy's golf tournament, Pierz's Robert Bell is continuing his assault on state tournaments.
The soon-to-be senior placed fourth in the Minnesota PGA Players' Tour match play qualifier June 12 at Bent Creek Golf Course in Eden Prairie.
Bell shot 74 to qualify for the match play championship July 25-27 at Dacotah Ridge Golf Club.
Two days later in the Westfield Junior qualifier at Wildflower at Fair Hills in Detroit Lakes, Bell shot 74 again to tie Thomas Williams as the top qualifier in the boys' 16-18 division.
Bell advanced to the Westfield Junior Minnesota PGA Championship that will be held at July 2-3 at Baker National Golf Club and Rush Creek Golf Club.
Junior PGA results
Staples' Cydney Hasselberg shot 72 June 13 at Madden's Pine Beach West Course to win the Girls 16-18 division during the Minnesota PGA junior tour stop.
Nisswa's Amanda Nord shot 109 to finish fifth in the girls' 13-15 division.
In the boys' 16-18 division Jackson Ronnei of Pequot Lakes shot 85 to finish tied for 24th. Travis Myers of Staples shot 87 for 26th.
Michael Foley of East Gull Lake shot 75 to finish tied for seventh with Staples' Nick Forsberg in the boys' 13-15 division. Staples' Zach Israelson shot 77 to finish 14th.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.